Few issues have energized the public, both pro and con, more than the protest by NFL players by kneeling during the national anthem before football games.

Proponents of the protests commonly make the assertion that the players cannot be thwarted in these actions because they are exercising their "First Amendment rights." This has even been stated by commentators who should know better. The Bill of Rights was created to protect individuals against excesses by the government. The First Amendment says, in part, that Congress shall not make laws which inhibit free speech. It says nothing about restricting employers, or business owners, or those in other relationships with an individual from taking actions against speech with which they disagree. In addition, though a person may have the right to speak, he or she does not have the right to be heard. In other words, no one has to give a speaker a platform from which to make his or her grievances known.

NFL owners have the legal right to restrict "speech" by their players who are, in fact, employees. They are not doing so at present because they are gambling that they are better off antagonizing a large number of the fans rather than the players. How will that fall out? Only time will tell. One thing is for certain, however. The bloom is off the rose for many of us who thought of the NFL as an all-American organization. The spectacle of whiny millionaires protesting the country that provided them with the ability to succeed financially beyond their wildest dreams is a bit much. If they aren't careful, the goose that lays the golden eggs will leave the stadium, and they will have to get real jobs.

Rick Ellis

retired military officer

New Orleans

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